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Full text of "A discourse delivered in the chapel of Harvard College, June 19, 1798 : occasioned by the approaching departure of the senior class from the university"

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JUNEic). 1798. 







HoLns Professor of Divinity in said College. 

Printed by MANNING iff LORING. 






S the prefent crifis of human affairs 
is very folemn and eventful -, as 
we, in common with our fellow 
citizens, feel a lively intereft in 
it ; and as this Univerfity is 
foon to refign a confiderable num- 
ber of her fons to the fervice of their country and 
mankind ; I cannot but feize this afFecling oppor- 
tunity, to addrefs to them and the ftudents at large 
fome obfervations and counfels, fuggefted chiefly by 
the prefent Hate of the world. 

Thefe counfels may be pertinently introduced by 
the feafonable advice of Solomon to young perfons in 

Proverbs xix. 27. 

Cease, mt son, to hear the instruction', ivhich 
causeth to err from the ivord& of knowledge. 

THIS infpired and parental caution is plainly in- 
tended to guard the riling generation againft thofe 
wrong and dangerous opinions, which would fcduce 


' C 4 ] 

them from the principles and pradice of found mo- 
rahty and piety ; whether fuch opinions be gravely 
taught by philofophers, artfully infinuated by wits, or 
powerfully enforced by political reformers ; whether 
they be privately uttered in focial circles, or propa- 
gated, like a general peftilence, in licentious publica- 
tions ; whether they prefent themfelves in the garb 
of fpeculation, or in the adual conduct and circum- 
fiiances of individuals or nations. 

To render this advice direclly applicable and ufeful 
to my auditors, I will enumerate fome leading in- 
flances of wrong inftrudlion, which charaflerize the 
prefent age ; point out their pernicious tendency and 
fruits ; and offer fome hints, adapted to fecure your 
minds againft their fatal infe6lion. 

As the fpeaker means to exprefs his fentiments and 
feelings on feveral delicate and interefting fubjecls 
with a freedom, confidence and zeal, which his rela- 
tion and affeclion to this Society both warrant and 
infpire ; he hopes to be heard with a candid and fe- 
rious temper, and wifhes that his obfervations may 
be regarded no farther than they approve themfelves 
to unbiaffed reafon. 

The FIRST INSTANCE I fliall mention of dan- 
gerous but too falhionable inftruclion, is that which 
holds up all fpeculative principles as equally innocent ; 
which ailerts that as the unalienable right of private 
judgment involves the liberty of thinking as we 
pleafe on every fubjed, our refponfibiHty does not* 
extend to our thoughts, but to our anions only ; 
that human conduct is influenced, not by opinion, 


C 5 ] 

hut by feeling or ii)clination ; that a perfon, who 
happens to fall into error, may be as honeft and vir- 
tuous as one who embraces truth ; confequently, 
that if the chriftian religion fhould prove to be true, 
a man may be as fincere in not believing, as in aiTent- 
ing to it, and his general temper and practice, which 
form his moral characler, may be equally amiable on 
the former fuppofition, as upon the latter. 

We Ihall not combat this flattering rcprefentation 
by oppofing or in the leaft difparaging that unfettered 
liberty of thought, which is eminently the boaft of 
this enlightened and liberal age. V/e grant, yea 
earneftly contend that every man is both entitled 
and bound to examine and judge for himfelf upon 
every important queftion, and that he is not amena- 
ble for his opinions to any tribunal on earth. But 
does it follow that he is not accountable to God and 
his own confciencc for the manner in which he con- 
duels his inquiries, efpecially on the moft ferious and 
awful fubjeds ? If, as all agree, he is under law to his 
Maker with refpecl to his overt acts ; is he under no 
refponfibility for thofe inward principles, by w^hich 
fuch acls are prompted and guided ? Is not the con- 
nexion or reciprocal influence between the head and 
heart, between the judgment and practice, very inti- 
mate and ftrong ? Do not evil propenfitics, indul- 
gences, and prejudices often miflead the underfland- 
ing into licentious opinions ? And do not fuch opin- 
ions warrant and ftrengthen fuch vitious aifeclions 
and manners ? In a word, are not fpcjulativc unbe- 
lief and practical infidelity alternate caufes and effecT:s 
of each other r While a wicked heart and life eagerly 
refort to irrehgious principles as neccllary to their 



C 6 1 

own juftification ; do not fuch principles, in return, 
directly encourage and patronize wickednefs ? While 
the profligate derives protection and comfort from 
infidelity ; does not this find its principal refources 
in profligate habits and morals ? 

As the volitions and confequent actions of men 
are mainly governed by their prevailing belief ; fo 
he who fteadily believes and obeys truth is a virtuous 
man ; while he who choofes and obeys falfehood is a 
vitious charadler. The great diftinclion between 
good and wicked men lies in this, that the former, 
though they may hold fome fpeculative errors, are, 
for the moft part, practically governed, not by thefe 
miftakes, but by thofe important truths which they 
univerfally and cordially embrace ; while the latter, 
though they may affent to fome momentous truths, 
yet difregard them in practice, and their prevailing 
affections and conduct cleave to and are moulded by 
falfehood. The man who profeffes and vifibly obeys 
the effential principles of religion and morality, has a 
claim to our charity, though his creed be mixed with 
many erroneous opinions. But the man who fets 
afide the great truths, on which virtue refts ; fuch 
as the being, character, or government of God, the 
future exiftence and retribution of man, the fitnefs 
and obligation of piety, juftice, fincerity, temperance, 
and chafcity ; the man, who confounds all moral 
diftinctions, and teaches the rectitude of lying, fraud, 
cruelty, lewdnefs, and irreligion ; fuch a man cannot 
be a virtuous character. His principles directly op- 
erate to extinguifli every virtuous fentiment, feel- 
ing, and action, and to nourifh every oppofite qua!* 
ity. It is incredible that an honeil and good heart, 


Z 7 1 

clpecially when united with fuch talents and Infor- 
mation as many patrons of infidelity have poffefTed, 
lliould embrace, much lefs eagerly propagate fuch 
errors. It is equally incredible that fuch principles 
fliould fail to demoralize the minds and conduct of 
their zealous fi'iends and promoters. " Since error 
is in every fenfe the means of wickednefs ; fince it 
adls as the direct guide and effedlual temptation to it, 
and the grand fupport and comfort in it ; it follows 
that he who is pleafed with error, is a friend to vice, 
is a guilty enemy to himfelf, and a deftroyer of his 
own well being, as well as a dilhonourer of the God 
of truth ; while he who fabricates, publifhes, and de- 
fends it, is the common foe of God and man. The 
evil, which he does to the univerfe, is in fome fenfe 
unbounded ; and with all this evil he is chargeable. 
The ravages of Alexander were probably lefs injuri- 
ous to men, and lefs guilty before God, than the rav- 
ages of the moral world by an able and zealous pat- 
ron of infidelity.'* 

If therefore the alleged linccrity of deifts intend 
only that their difbelief of chriftianlty is real or cor- 
dial ; this fa6l, inftead of rendering or proving them 
virtuous, may evince the reality and greatnefs of 
their moral depravity. For the fuppoiitlon that 
this religion may be from God lays an imme- 
diate obligation on thofe, to whom it comes, 
to attend with fair and ferious minds to its 
proofs ; the refult of which attention, in cafe of its 
truth, will be a full belief and welcome reception of 
it. As the general idea of a divine revelation im- 
plies that it pofleffes a fufficiency of evidence and im- 
portance to demand our faith and obedience ; fo the 



C s ] 

peculiar proofs and difcoveries of the gofpcl greatly 
enhance the duty of believing, and guilt of rejecting 
it. Vv^hile its various, abundant, and growing evi- 
dence fatisfies the honeft inquirer ; its doclrines, pre- 
cepts, and motives are perfectly congenial, as well as 
unfpcakably falutary and comforting to the humble 
and virtuous heart. Agreeably, a cordial faith ia 
this fyitem is reprefented by the facred writers as 
an eminent cxprcffion and inftrument of virtue ; 
while unbelief is cenfured as highly criminal and 
dangerous, as at once importing and perpetuating a 
vitious and obdurate character. Thefe obfervations 
are greatly confirmed by the moral conduct and prin- 
ciples of ancient and modern infidels, compared with 
thofe of ferious chriftian believers. While a fpirit of 
humiHty and integrity, of devotion and charity has, 
in numberlefs inflances, led to or been unfpeakably 
improved by the belief of chriftianity ; it is a facl 
that the doctrines and lives of by far the greater part 
of infidels have been unfriendly both to virtue and 
piety. The bulk of deiftical writers have fought to 
undermine natural religion and morality, as well as 
the chriftian faith. If they really and practically be- 
lieved their own doctrines, how depraved muft have 
been their moral characters ! If they did not believe 
them, what falfehood and malignity do they difcover 
in deliberately attempting to deceive, corrupt and 
ruin mankind ! I add, what mean and wicked hy- 
pocrify have the generality of Britifli infidel authors, 
from Herbert to Gibbon, been chargeable with, in 
folemnly pretending great veneration and zeal for 
chrifi:ianity, while infidioufly and earnefi:ly laboring; 
to fubvert it ! 


C 9 1 

In a word, the alTertion, that all religious opinions 
are alike, implies the following dreadful abfurdities ; 
that God has not given his rational offspring fuffi- 
cient means of diftin2:ui{hing: truth from falfehood, 
even in their higheft concerns ; that truth is of no 
importance to man ; that it has no peculiar connex- 
ion either with his virtue or happinefs ; that his con- 
viction of the mod interefling doclrines and facts has 
tio tendency to influence either his temper or actions ! 
Even thofe who make thefe affertions, feel them to 
be falfe : elfe why do they labor to build up their 
own opinions on the ruins of chriflianity ? Why do 
they conflantly inveigh againfl the pernicious influ- 
ence of fuperflition and enthufiafm ? If the religious 
principle, mifguided or perverted, produce fuch bane- 
ful effects ; the natural concluiion is, that the fame 
principle, well directed, will have an influence pro- 
portionably happy. 

The deflgn and tendency of thefe remarks are not 
to reftrain the privilege of free inquiry, but to pre- 
vent its abufe. If you afk, what is the exa6t boun- 
dary between the right and wrong exercife of this 
liberty ; I anfwer in one word, if a profeffed inquirer 
after truth honeftly wifhes to find it, and for this end, 
with candid and confcientious diligence collects, ex- 
amines, and admits all the evidence within his reach j 
he in this inftance does his duty, and is not account- 
able for any miftake, which he may chance to imbibe. 
That the foes of chriftianity, and propagators of irre- 
ligious or immoral principles, have acted this part, is 
a fuppofltion not fupported by reafon or fa6t. 



C 10 ] 

A SECOND CLASS of wrong opinions, which 
threaten to Icduce you from the path of wifdom and 
virtue, are fuch as recommend indolent eafe, thouo-ht- 
Icfs dilhpation, or licentious pleafure, as the principal 
fourccs of happinefs. Such ideas too often find a wel- 
come admittance into the youthful bofom. While the 
fprightly feelings of the young are eminently tuned 
for pleafure ; their ardent and in many inflances vol- 
atile fpirits are peculiarly impatient of felf-denyino*, 
laborious, and perfevering apphcation. This fond- 
nefs for eafe and amufemicnt is nourifhed bv the foft 


and frivolous tafte, which too generally marks the 
prefent age, and in particular by the train of conver- 
ilition, of condu<fl, and of reading, which diftin- 
guillies fome of the more polillied dalles of fociety. 
It is a common obfervation, that as a community 
rifes in affluence and refinement, its devotion to lux- 
ury and pleafure increafes ; of courfe, its relifh for 
fteady induftry and folid learning, efpecially for the 
iludy and practice of ftricl virtue and piety propor- 
tionally decays. Wherever pleafure erecls her throne, 
file enervates both the intellectual vigor and moral 
fcnfibility of her votaries. 

How important then is it that all ranks of our 
citizens, particularly the youth of our country, ef- 
pecially thole who arc forming by a learned educa- 
tion to be future examples and leaders of mankind ; 
how important that they rcligioufly guard againft 
the fafcinations of this mighty and fatal enchantrefs ! 
To this end, fix it deeply in your minds, that early 
habits of patient and continued application are ne- 
ceilary to your future eminence and ufefulnefs ; that 
the formation of fuch habits is one of the greateft ad- 

i: II ] 

vantages which a public education can be (low ; that 
thofe intelledual purfuits and accomplifhmcnts, which 
are more eafy, brilUant, or pleafmg, fliould ever be 
fubordinate to thofe, which are more fubflantial and 
beneficial ; that a fludious cultivation of the m.orc 
foHd parts of fcience is eminently needful at this day, 
to fortify you againft that fpirit of fubtlc and fyfte- 
matic innovation both in politics and rehgion, which 
tlireatens to overwhelm the order and peace of the 
world ; and finally, that felf denying and virtuous 
diligence is the appointed road to the moft pure, no- 
ble, and lafting delights. While the plcafures of 
idlenefs and vitious indulgence are empty and tran- 
fient, and followed with languor, fliame and remorfe ; 
thofe of reafon, confcience, and religion arc at once 
fatisfaclory, improving, and perpetual. 

THIRDLY, let me caution you againft thofe 
opinions, whether vented by philofophers or men of 
the world, which reprefent our fpecies as dcilitute 
and incapable of any higher principle than meer felf- 
iflmefs, as not framed nor obliged to exercife any 
real benevolence or integrity, any genuine friendlliip, 
patriotifm, or devotion ; and confequently, that the 
profeiTion or appearance of thefe virtues in any of 
mankind is nothino* more than an artful felf-feekincc 
policy, which conceals and accompliflies its own views 
by the fair but delufive fhow of difintcrcfted good- 
nefs. Without ftopping to difcufs this theory upon 
philofophical principles, it is fullicient to obfcrve that 
the uncorrupted voice of reafon, confcience, and 
fcripture, of the wife and good in all nations and 
ages, of univerfal liiftory and experience, proclaim 


[ 12 ] 

the real exiftence and obligation of benevolence and 
piety, as well as felf love ; and of courfe warrants us' 
to believe that thofe who are moft expert in giving 
fuch a fhocking portrait of the bell human charac- 
ters, have drawn their picture from the confcious 
bafenefs and wickednefs of their own hearts. 

From the fubtilty of falfe fpeculation we appeal to 
common fenfe, and aik, is there not an effential dif- 
ference in the charader and ruling principles of a 
WASHINGTON and a Robefpiere ; of the prefent 
Executive of our country, and that of a certain great 
and terrible republic ? While you are ftruck with the 
contrail between thefe feveral characters ; do you 
not feel a facred obligation to copy the integrity, the 
patriotifm, the active and enlarged philanthropy of 
the one, and to avoid the felfifhnefs, injuflice, and 
villainy of the other ? 

I intreat you to carry thefe moral fentiments along 
with vou into the future fcenes of active life. Let 


them confecrate and dignify the refpedive parts, 
w^hich Providence fhall call you to perform both in 
the church and commonwealth. Never forget that 
found philofophy, as well as chriftianity, teaches that 
you were made, not for yourfelves only, but for God 
and the univerfe ; that you were intended to ferve, 
not merely the purpofes of time, but thofe of eter- 
nity. Befeech the Author of your frame to imprefs 
thefe ideas on your minds, to infpire your hearts with 
correfpondent affe<^ions, and thus to form you to a 
generous and elevated character, becoming reafonable, 
focial, and immortal beings. 

But if you cherifh the degrading fentiment, that 
you are bound to love and feek yourfelves only, it 


C '3 3 

Will preclude or extinguifli that glow of public affecr 
tion, which is the foul of perfonal excellence and gen- 
eral ufcfulnefs. It will render you religious hypo- 
crites in the church, and political ones in the ftate. 
While v/c thus caution you againft the debaiing 
influence of this feltifh theory ; I think it highly ex- 
pedient in the 

FOURTH PLACE to remind you of a more re. 
cent fyftem, which affects the contrary afpect of ex- 
treme anduniverfal good-will, and has for its oflenfi- 
ble objecl the regeneration of an oppressed 


You all know that thofe who led in the French 
Revolution early held out, at leafl in a partial degree, 
this fraternal intention ; and that their fucceffors are 
to this moment affectedly profecuting it with their 
utmofl: policy and force. Mr. Robifon, Profeffor of 
Natural Philofophy, and Secretary to the Royal So- 
ciety of Edinburgh, in a work recently publifhed, 
has endeavoured to trace the principles and meafures 
of France to a more early, profound, and extenfive 
fource than has been generally fuppofed. After long 
polTefling, as he afferts, uncommon means of infor- 
mation, and exploring the fubjecl with the mofl in- 
quifitive and laborious attention, he gives the public 
a minute account of a fociety, calling itfelf the Illu- 
MiNATi, which was founded in Germany by Dr. 
Adam Weifliaupt in 1775, and under the mafk of 
univerfal philanthropy has been aiming at complete 
dominion over the minds and bodies of mankind. 


For this purpofe, " it has formed, and to an alarm- 
ing degree executed a plan for exterminating Chrif-* 
tianity, Natural Religion, the belief of a God, of the 
Immortality of the Soul, and Moral Obligation •, for 
rooting out of the work! civil and cjomeftic govern- 
i^ient, the right of property, marriage, natural affec- 
tion, chaftity, and decency ; in a word., for deftroy- 
ing whatever is virtuous, refmed or delirable, and in- 
troducing again univerfal barbarifm and brutality.'' 
" This fociety, according to our author, under vari- 
ous names and forms, in the courfe of a few years fe- 
cretly extended its branches through a great part of 
Europe, and even into America, The aim of its 
members is to inlift, in every country, fuch as have 
frequently declared themfelves difcontented with the 
ufual inftitutions ; to acquire the direction of educa- 
tion, of church management, of the profeffional chair, 
and of the pulpit ; to bring their opinions into falli- 
ion by every art, and to fpread them among young 
people by the help of young writers \ to get undev 
their influence reading and debating focieties, x^^ 
viewers, bookfellers and poftmaflers, journalifts or 
editors of newfpapers and other periodical publica- 
tions ; and to infmuate fome of their fraternity into 
all offices of inflruciiion, honor, profit, and influence, 
in literary, civil, and religious inftitutions. As it is 
one of their favorite maxims, that '' the end fanc- 
tifies the means," they have nothing to reftrain them 
from pufhing their plans by the vileft methods."* 

^ A careful 

* This compendious view of the llluminati, founded on ProfefTor Robifon's 
details, is moftly borrowed from two recent American publications, viz. Pres- 
ident Dwiciit's fermons on infidel philofopby^ ^nd Dr. Morse's difcourfc on 
the Nutional fad. I have quoted their accounts, becaufc they are concife gnd 


I '5 ] 

A careful attention to Mr. Robiibn's book has, in 
many inftances, produced an alarmifig apprchenfion, 
yea a full convidion of its general truth. This con- 
viclion is founded on the pofitive aiTcrtions and de-* 


accurate, and had been feen by very few of the hearers of this Ledure; and 
becaufe I was defirous of adding authorities fo refpedluble to the more private 
tcftimonies of many judicious and excellent pcrfons in favor of the general cred- 
ibihty of the narrative in queftion. It ouglit not to furprifc us that the re- 
port of a fcheme fo novel, extravagant, and diabolical fliould at firft ftrlkc many 
wife and good men as a ridiculous and incredible romance. Nor is it ftrange 
that perfons of irreligious and diforganizing principles or manners, and thofe 
whofc eyes continue dazzled with the fplendid declarations and fuccefles of 
France, or with the enchanting profpeils of political, philofophical, or religious 
fanaticifm, fhould be flow to believe, or at leaft eager to difcredit a publicatioa 
fo hoftile to their opinions or wifhes. Nor does it feem difficult to account for 
the real or afFe(5led incredulity, with which this work is regarded by fome Brli- 
ijh Revieiuers. Many of thefe reviewers have long fliown themfelves ardent 
friends to political and religious innovation. Some of them have zealoufly 
advocated, probably from the bell principles, a civil and ecclefiaftical reform in 
their nation ; while others are implicated in this hiflory as principal or fecon- 
dary agents in the grand fcheme of illumination. To which we may add, the 
cenfures pafTed on our author by fomc of thefe literary tribunals, may probably 
have been the offspring of a very few individuals ; in which a great majority 
of the judges had little or no participation. 

The difpleafure exprelTed againft this writer by fome worthy members of the 
Mafonic Fraternity, feems to have been excited by his tracing the origin of the 
Illuminati to the corruptions of Free Mafonry in Europe ; by his reprefentlnj 
them as artfully converting to their own advantage the peculiar refpe^^abillty, 
protecflion and fecrefy, the Intimate, regular and extenfive connexions of the 
Mafonic Lodges on that Continent ; by his holding up thefe Lodges as at befl 
a frivolous inflltution, and all fecret and myflcrious focieties as dangerous ; and 
on this ground devoutly wlfhlng their voluntary and formal diffolutlon. His 
opinion of the univerfal frivolity or mifchievous tendency of fuch meetings 
may be incorrt(5l and injurious ; while the leading facls, on which he founds 
it, are true. The warm and virtuous indignation and even horror, which thefe 
fadts juftly excited, may have induced him too hafllly to condemn an inflltu- 
tion, which in Its fimple ftate may be innocent and laudable, but which In his 
view had been perverted to dreadful purpofes. If wc judly blame this undif- 
tlnguilliing cenfure, let the principle which prompted it engage our generous in- 
dulgence. Let the proofs of a good underilanding and heart, of enlightened 
and fervent zeal for pure chrifllan morality and piety, which diftinguliTi 
kb book, procure for it a candid and thorough examination. At the fume time 


tails of a gentleman of chara^5ler and flationf before 
the bar of an enlightened and vigilant public ; on the 
printed confeiTions of four confiderable members of 
the fociety in queftion, on the expofed contents of 
many of its fecret papers, on many other publications 
of notoriety and reputation, and on the teftimony of 
repeclable living informers. The author declares 
that he has the authority of printed evidence for all 
his affertions, except one anecdote, which was told 
him by many credible witnefTes. 

But v/hat connexion had this German affociation 
with the Revolution and confequent meafures of 
France ? The anfwer is, the fecret papers of the fo* 
ciety prove that it had extended its branches into 
the latter country before the year 1786 ; that Mira- 
beau and Talleyrand, two diftinguifhed agents in that 
revolution, were officers of a fecret lodge at Paris in 
1788 ; that during the fitting of the Notables in that 
year deputies were fent to France from tlie German 
Illuminati, at the requeft of this lodge, to aid in the 
projected fubverfion of religion and government ; 
that the Duke of Orleans, afterwards Egalite, who 
had for fever al years been at the head of 266 fecret 


let the approved charaAers of the principal Mafons In this country, efpeclally 
in the Eaftern States, " induce us to hold the Fraternity here in efteem and 
honor, as delighting in hofpitality, devoted to humanity, and favorable to the 
fupport of civil authority." * 

* Prcjident Adams^ reply to the addrefs of the Grand Lodge of J^ajpzcbufetts. 

f The Editors of the Brltifh Encyclopedia mention Profeflbr Robifon among 
the moft diftinguifhed contributors to that work, afllgning to him alone tiventy 
three valuable articles in fcience and arts, fuch as Phyfics, Pneumatics, &c. and 
afcribing philofophy to his agency In union with that of Dr. Gleig, another learn- 
ed and leading contributor. Surely a writer of fuch eminence claims our re- 
fpcAful attention, and ought not to be lightly accufed or even fufpeded of en* 
thufiafm, illibcrality, or falfehood. 

C 17 1 

focieties, and by his corrupt influence had converted 
them into nurferies of impiety and fedition, was about 
this time illuminated by Mirabeau ; that the Ger- 
man agents, on their arrival, perfuaded each of thefe 
lodges to form a political committee, whofe object 
fliould be to devife the befl means for a general rev- 
olution. From thefe committees arofe the famous 
Jacobin Club, whofe primary aim was to revolu- 
tionize not only France, but, if poffibie, the world. 
By means of this parent club at Paris, and fubordinate 
focieties generated by and acling with it throughout 
the nation, an entire revolution was effecled in a mo- 
ment. This previous train, thus fecretly laid, ac- 
counts for the inflantaneous and univerfal exploiion 
which enfued. This holds up a caufe adequate to 
that total and uniform chanee of opinion and feel- 
ing, of language and conducl, which at the fame in- 
ftant appeared in every corner of that extenfive coun- 
try. In Ihort, the known zeal of the illuminated 
brethren, and the glorious opportunity, which the 
dawn of the French Revolution afforded, of exerting 
it with fuccefs, joined with the printed evidence of 
their actual and very efficient co-operation, efpecially 
in 1790 and 1 791, leave no reafonable doubt that the 
revolutionary principles and meafures of France are 
in a confiderable degree their offspring. 

Accordingly, the avowed fentiments, objects, and 
even language of the French government have, from 
the beginning of the revolution, remarkably coinci- 
ded with thofe of this brotherhood. In 1792, their 
National Convention by a folemn decree offered 


they exprefsly decreed^ that the objeft of their war 

C againft 

t i8 1 

againll furrounding countries was the annihila- 

PEACE WITH THE COTTAGES. This decree was or- 
dered to be tranflated into all languages, and difperf- 
ed into all the neighbouring countries. In execution 
of this fyftem, their agents or armies have uniformly 
excited difcontent, if not infurreclion, . in every na- 
tion which they meant to fraternize or fubdue j and 
by the aid or under the cover of this, have compelled 
the invaded people, at the point of the bayonet, to 
accept the offered boon of liberty and equality 1 

They have alfo exactly copied the fcheme of the 
Illuminati with refpecl to religion and morality. As 
early as 1792, a proportion was made in their Con- 
vention, and received with loud and general applaufe, 


lature likewife early fet aiide the chriftian era, and by 
fubftituting decades in place of weeks artfully con- 
trived to deilroy the obfervation and even memory 
of the chriftian fabbath. They alfo decreed that death 
ivas an everlaftingjleep^ and ordered an infcription to 
this effect to be placed in capitals at the entrance of 
their grave yards. In 1793, the Convention folemnly 
renounced both the belief of a God and the immor- 
tality of the foul, afferted that all religions were the 
daughters of ignorance and pride, decreed the publi- 
cation of thefe fentiments in all languages, and affu- 
med the fublime function of diffuiing truth over the 
whole earth. The avowed moral principles and con- 
duct of regenerated France are alfo a faithful copy of 
Illuminatifm : they are fuch as brutalize the human 
character, and proftrate the fafet-y, beauty and happi-* 
nefs of fociety. j cannot 

r 19 3 

I cannot forbear adding that the fuppolition of fo' 
. deep and extenfive a confpiracy againft government 
and religion as our authot attempts to prove, eafily 
accounts for the rapid progrefs of impious and difor- 
ganizing principles, and the wonderful fuccefs of the 
French arms and intrigues, in various and diftant 
parts of the world ; for that ardent and obftinate de- 
votion to the principles and meafures of a hoflile and 
abandoned foreign power, which ftill characterizes 
fome intelligent and even native Americans, and fome 
high or influential characters in our national councils ; 
for the zealous, perfevering fupport and circulation 
of certain newfpapers and other productions, which 
are uniformly devoted to malignant falfehood, cal- 
umny, and fedition, which aim or direflly tend to 
undermine the religious and moral, as well as civil 
inftitutions, principles and habits of our country, to 
deftroy the character and official exiftence of its pref- 
ent rulers and clergy, and to eftablifh on their ruins 
the dreadful reign of infidelity and confufion. If 
thefe and fimilar facts do not evince fo early and 
broad a fyftem of wickednefs as this writer fuppofes 
(the truth of which in all its extent the fpeaker is not 
prepared to fupport ;) yet they indicate a real and 
molt alarming plan of hoftility againft the deareft 
interelts of man ; and thus lay an ample foundation 
for thofe remarks and counfels, which are to fmifli 
this difcourfe, 

One obvious and important inference is, that fer- 
vent profefiions of general philanthropy, or fplendid 
and pafiionate harangues on univerfal freedom and 
equality, are too often either fanciful or hypocritical, 


and for the mofc part produdive of evil effefts. They 
are fanciful, as they hold out a pleafing abftra^l idea, 
a beautiful phantom, which does not apply to the 
prefent frame and condition of man ; and fubftitute 
a metaphyfical, fpeculative, and artificial benevolence, 
which has no real, definite objedl and ufe, in place of 
thofe natural and important duties, which we owe to 
ourfelves, our families, and our country.* They are 
likewife often hypocritical. In the view both of 
reafon and experience, unnatural and extravagant 


* It is readily gprantecj that both reafon and revelation enjoin upon us what 
may be called hnivrr/ai love, or an impartial afFeftion to all intelligent bcinga 
with whom we are connected, efpecially to the whole human race. It is the 
glory of our religion, that it fubordinates every private and limited affection to 
this public principle. But this enlarged good-will does not imply fruitlefsi 
wifhes or attempts to change that order of things, which is proper, neceflaryi 
ami advantageous in the prefent condition of man. Nor does it conCfi: in fuch 
high fpeculations and feelings refpeding the fyftem at large, as neither do nor 
can prove their own fincerity, and contribute to the public good, by producing 
correfponding praftical fruits. That benevolence, which is not or cannot be 
verified in beneficent praAice, Is not only ufclefs, but is very apt to cheat and 
cazzle its poffefTor, by fetting up refined but cheap fentiment and feeling in 
the room of felf denying, laborious and expcnfivegoodnefs. A man who is 
not />ra^:eally ready to devote a fmall part of his property, labor, or time to the 
comfort of his poor neighbour or even the fupport of his own family, may yet 
by the force of fpeculation work up his mind into a fancied and perhaps rap- 
turous willingnefj to facrifice his whole intereft temporal and eternal to the 
good of the univerfe ! Such a wiUingncfs implies no affual or poffibU facrifice, 
and therefore no fure proof of real benevolence ; yet as it has the appearance 
of very fublimc and difinterefted affedion, its pofleflbr is in danger not only 
of entertaining a high and confident opinion of his own goodnefs, but of def- 
jpifing andnegle.fting the ordinary jnd fubftantial duties of chriftian love. But 
a fleady, confcicnticus and affedionate praftice of the domeflic and neighbourly, 
the friendly and patriotic virtues is the beft, and, generally fpeaking, almoft the 
ynly method, in which the bulk of chriftians can prove the fincerity, and pro- 
mote the cbjefts of univerfal benevolence. That is true philanthropy, which 
t!',akes its fubjej^ adlively and ufefully benevolent to his family, vicinity, coun^ 
fry, and a* far as pofliblc, his whole fpecies ; and which purfues the good of 
jkirticular portions of mankind, in confiftency with An4 fubor<iinatioi;i to thi 
great intcrefts of the ^Eyhole. 

C 21 ] 

pretcnfions, efpecially when united with talents and 
information, are ufually void of rincerity. Thus the 
pretences to refined morality, to the mod generous 
zeal for univerfal liberty and happinefs, which have 
been made both by the Illuminati and by French Pol- 
iticians, have been perpetually confuted by their own 
fenfual, ambitious, tyrannical, and profligate charac- 
ters. Hence their profefTions and doctrines are com- 
monly pernicious ; as they make the bulk of man- 
kind difcontented with their lot, and urge them on 
to facrifice every virtue and comfort fuitable or pof- 
fible to man, whether perfonal or domeftic, patriotic 
or religious, and eagerly rufli into every oppoiite 
crime and mifery, in purfait of an unattainable and 
romantic felicity. Let the horrid pra<5l:ical fruits of 
fuch pretenfions in the Old World engrave on your 
hearts a perpetual caution againft thofe innovating 
theories, which overlook the real capacities and dif- 
pofitions, the mutual wants and dependences of man- 
kind. Learn to view man as he is. On this 
bafe erect the fyftem of his rights, duties, and enjoy- 
ments. By this fiandard facredly govern your fu- 
ture condud. 

But the main inftruclion, which the preceding 
view inculcates, is a leffon in favor of religion, ef- 
pecially of CHRISTIANITY. The reccut philofophers 
of Germany and France began their alTault upon the 
order and peace of the world, by attacking all reli- 
gious principles and inftitutions. Their firft effort, 
like that of their infidel predecefTors, was to inflame 
the appetites and palTions of their pupils ; then to 
bold up religion as impofing abfurd and cruel rc- 


t 22 ] 

ftraints upon thefe propenfitles ; then to reprefent 
thcfe reftriclions as the fclfifh contrivance of priefts 
and defpots ; and thus to gain over to infidelity the 
numerous tribes of voluptuous, ambitious, and dif- 
contented members of fociety. Does not this procefs 
evince that, even in the view of thefe philofophers, 
religion and morality are infeparably connected ? 
Why elfe do they prepare men for infidelity by cor- 
rupting their morals, and train them up to profligate 
manners by extinguifhing the fentiments of religion ? 
Does not this difplay at once the hypocrify of thefe 
pretended refiners of virtue, and the importance of 
religion as the great fupport of morality ? 

The fame leffon is further enforced by the im- 
moral lives of thefe modern reformers. The founder 
and principal members of the illuminated brother- 
hood, while deluding m.ankind with a beautiful pic- 
ture of virtue, refcued from the defiling embraces of 
fuperftition, were themfelves ftained with vices of the 
moft grofs, favage, and monftrous complexion. It is 
a remarkable fad, that the moft diftinguiihed promo- 
ters of this new moralitv both in France and Germa- 
ny, are either licentious and proftituted clergymen, 
who had folemnly profciTed to believe and fworn to 
inculcate the dodrines of chriftianity, or men in . 
other departments, whofe characters were a reproach 
to human nature. In the former clafs we might 
reckon Talleyrand^ once a chriftian but very immoral 
bifliop ; in the latter Mirabeau^ Orleans^ and others, 
whofe meannefs and profligacy ftamped their names 
with infamy. Compare thefe prime minifters of in* 
fidelity with the lift of chriftian Apoftles, ConfeiTors, 
and Martyrs ; with the ferious believers of the Gof- ? 


I 23 } 

pel in every age ; with the noble train of chrlPdan 
patriots, teachers, and profeiTors in your own coun- 
try, from our exemplary Chief Magillrate down to 
the lowly and virtuous peafant ; and fay, whicli of 
the oppoiite claiTes would you choofe for your moral 
inftrudlors and patterns ? From whofe lips would you 
expecl the moft pure and falutary dodrines ? Does 
not the contrail hold up experimental proof, that the 
lovely portrait of virtue drawn by its impure and 
hypocritical admirers is at bell a iifelefs image, a 
body without the fplrit ; while chriftianity, with a 
fovereign energy peculiar to herfelf, bp.eathes into 


LIVING SOUL ? Which leads us to add that 

The fame conclufion refults from tracing the effccls 
of infidel philofophy on the great body of its difciples. 
Behold France converted by it into one great theatre 
of falfehood and perjury, of cruelty and ferocity, 
of robbery and piracy, of anarchy and defpotifiTij 
of fornication and adultery, and of courfe reduced to 
a ftate of unfpeakable degradation and mnery. Com- 
pare this piclure with the exifling chara6i:er and ftate 
of our own country ; with the unfullied purity of 
its public adminiftration, and the general order, re- 
finement and happinefs of its citizens ; and then iay^ 
which is moil friendly to the human charader and 
condition, the atheiilical fyftem of France, or the 
chriftian inilitutions of America ? Does not the com- 
parifon force a conviction, that infidelity is the mor- 
tal foe, and chriftianity the guardian angel both of 
perfonal worth and public felicity ? Was there ever 
a more complete. acknowledgment of the excellence of 


the chriftian religion, than £lie has received from 
tliofe, who have fyftematically labored to deftroy her, 
as the great oppofer of their brutal vices and their 
horrid confpiracy againft the human race ? Did the 
principles of an atheiftical and demoralizing philofo- 
phy ever receive fo full and impreilive a confutation, 
as from the Clocking revolution they have lately pro- 
duced in the human heart ? What an inftru£live fpec* 
tacle does France, in this view, exhibit to mankind ! 
May Vv^e not hope that in this way her fall may 
eventually prove ffje riches of the 'vjorld^ and that her 
own experience of the dreadful effects of irreligion 
may at length recal her to the fentiments of chrif- 
tian piety and virtue ? 

The prefent times, my young friends, afford you 
uncommon advantages and motives to purfue the 
contrail now inflituted, in its utmoil extent. The 
prefent theory and practical fruits of infidel and fe* 
ditious philofophy are but the natural growth of the 
feed, which has long been fowling in the publications, 
lives, and fecret concerts of its friends. Various 
caufcs have contributed to accelerate and perfect this 
moral vegetation. Among the moll powerful of 
thefe have been the difgufling and oppreffive abufes 
attending the political and religious eilablifliments of 
Chriflendom, and the growing difcontent or indigna. 
tion of thofe, who have remarked their impropriety 
or felt their preffure. 

While the attentive eye thus beholds in former 
times the embryo of the prefent revolutionizing fyf- 
tem •, it muft be efpecially ftruck with the uniform 
tendency of infidel tenets, in their variou. and even 
befl forms, to undermine virtue and encourage vice. 


C 25 ] 

This feature is vifible in their moft chafte, refined, 
' and able inftrudors ; fuch as Herbert, Shaftefbury, 
and Roufleau.* Mr. Hume, the greateft and appar- 
ently one of the moft virtuous of thefe authors, juf- 
tifies and recommends pride, felf-murder, adultery, 
and female infidelity ; and after fpending his days in 
laboring to exterminate the belief of a God, a prov- 
idence, and a future ftate, employs his laft moments 
in afFe<5tedly fporting with the moft ferious of all fub- 
je6ls, a final retribution. Chriftianity, on the con- 
trary, not only forbids every vice, and enjoins every 
virtue in its utmoft perfeclion, but difcourages the 
one and enforces the other by infinite motives. 
" Hence to fay that a man is a real chriftian, is uni- 
verfally underftood as a declaration, that he is a man 
diftinguifhedly virtuous. But to fay, a man is an in- 
fidel, is generally underftood as a declaration, that he 
is plainly immoral,'* or devoid of any fixed princi- 
ple of honefty and goodnefs. 

The deiftical doctrine has alfo been perpetually 
fiiifting its character and mode of defence. About 
a century ago it was theifm or natural religion ; 
then total difbelief j then the mere animal fyftem ; 
then univerfal doubt ; now it is downright atheifm ; 

D fliortly 

• The inefncacy of thefe do6lrines to reform their votaries, and their per- 
nicious influence on the human character, are ftated with great particularity 
*nd force in Dr. Dvvlght's Sermons on infidel philofophy ; in which he proves, 
by large details, that this philofophy in all Its fhapes, as maint:iined by ancient 
heathens and modern unbelievers, inftead of forming men to virtue, has ever 
tended to vice, and if " thoroughly pradifed, would overwhehn the world 
with that depravity and mifcry, which the Scriptures exhibit as experienced in 
hell." The writer gratefully owns his obligation to thefe fermons for feveral 
important ideas, as well as for a number of fentcnces marked as quotations ; 
*nd recommends them to the ferious attention of thofe who wifli rightly to 
eftlniate that boafting but vain philolophy, which is feekijig to exalt itfelf on 
the ruins of chriftianity. 


C ^5 ] 

, fliortly it will re-afcend from atheifm towards natural 
'religion. What certainty, what refting place can 
the ferious inquirer find in fuch an ever varying and 
difcordant fyftem ? But the leading doctrines and 
proofs of revelation, amidft all thefe changes, have 
remained uniform, unfhaken, immutable. 

Compare alfo the comforting and elevating influ- 
ence of chriflianity with the gloomy and defponding 
fpirit of infidelity. The latter affords no fure ftand- 
ard of faith, conduft or hope 5 it prefents no truths 
to guide, encouragements to enliven, fanclions to 
enforce, or fuccours to aid the returning virtue of 
confcious offenders. But the gofpel, by revealing 
an equally holy and merciful Deity, a perfed Medi- 
ator and atonement, a divine Sandifier and Com- 
forter, a free pardon and glorious reward, animates 
the humble penitent to rife from moral degeneracy 
and guilt, to renovated, progreflive holinefs and 
peace. In this way it confers upon him the dignity 
of confcious virtue, the funfliine of an approving 
mind, the comfort of divine friendlhip, and the 
bright profpecl of everlafling blifs. 

Should Providence hereafter conduct you into do- 
meftic or public life, chriftian principles diffufed 
through your temper and conduct will render you 
amiable, ufeful and happy, as hufbands and fathers, 
as neighbours and friends, as political or religious 
guides and examples. While your country is chiefly 
indebted to its religious and moral inflitutions for its 
diftinguifhed knowledge, order, union, and profper* 
ity ; remember that fhe facredly calls on you, her 
literary fons, to prefer ve and tranfmit thefe bleffmgs 
to pofterity. She peculiarly expects it from thofe, 


* r ^7 '] I 

who, in a late fplrlted Addrefs to her excellent Head, 
have publiflied their abhorrence of " thofe principles 
which fubvert fecial order/' and have folemnly " of- 
fered their unimpaired youthful energies, and even 
their lives, to the fervice of their country." 

As the local fituation and other fignal advantages 
of our favored land feem to point her out as the def- 
tined barrier againil the threatened univerfal inunda- 
tion of irreligious and political fanaticifm ; fo the 
firm and united fland of her enUghtened youth in 
favor of the oppofite principles may ultimately reicue 
and blefs the world. This is a fpecies of univerfal 
philanthropy, which is folid and noble, and which I 
earneftly recommend to your emulous purfuit. 

In this way you may effectually counterwork the 
fubtle policy of the common enemies of God and man. 
While they are feeking to brutalize the world by ex- 
terminating the weekly fabbath and chriftian inftruc- 
tors ; you are invited, and indeed have virtually 
fworn, to oppofe this infernal artifice by fupporting 
thefe great pillars of focial order. While they are 
outraging female modefty and dignity, proftrating 
the venerable rites of marriage, debafmg the impor- 
tant and endearing connexions of huiband, fon, and 
brother, reducing both men and women to worfe 
than brutal impurity and barbarifm, forming both 
into a motley compound of the fwine and the tiger, 
and at laft configning them, with kindred beafts, to 
eternal lleep and putrefadion ; while this is the boaft- 
"(cd work of modern reformers, be it yours to affert 
the dignity of man, to guard and improve the deli- 
cacy and worth of the female character, to exemplify 
the faireft portraits of domeftic virtue and happinefs, 


C 23 3 

to exhibit, in their moft alluring forms, the devout^ 
and benevolent chriftian Paftor, the ftridly jull as , 
well as able Lawyer, the equally humane and fkilful 
Phyfician, the inflexible Friend and Patriot, the be- 
neficent Leader and Pattern of mankind. 

The SOLEMN FAREWELL, wliich tMs occafion bids 
me pronounce, reminds us of that far more awful 
reparation from each other, which death will ere long 
proclaim. In the profped or experience of this fep- 
aration, infidelity ftrips us both of comfort and of 
hope. But the moft ardent and anxious friendfliip 
cannot wifh you a greater good, than that after a 
long fcene of honorable and ufeful conduct founded 
on pious and evangelical principles, chriftianity may 
" feat herfelf by your dying pillows, draw afide the 
curtains of eternity, point your clofing eyes to the 
opening gates" of everlafting life, and convey your 
departing fpirits in peace and tranfport to a ftate of 
perfect, evergrowing knowledge, virtue, enjoyment, 
vifefulnefs, and glory.